This Friday and Saturday, the Miller-Eccles group in southern California will hear a presentation from Rob Briggs on the topic: “Mountain Meadows Massacre: How could this heinous massacre have happened?” Information is as follows:
ABOUT THE TOPIC:
With the sesquicentennial of the Utah War, including the Mountain Meadows Massacre, there will be considerable attention focused on this chapter of LDS history. The Utah war, its causes and its long-term consequences on the Latter-day Saints are not well-appreciated. With the Hollywood Theatrical release nationwide of â€œSeptember Dawnâ€ in May 2007 about the Mountain Meadows Massacre to the Commemorations of the Mountain Meadows Massacre in September 2007, the national and world-wide focus on this great tragedy will reach an intensity not seen since the 1870s with the trial and execution of John D. Lee for his part in the Massacre. With Mitt Romney running for the presidential nomination, the press will undoubtedly recount sensationalistic versions of the massacre. The past few years have seen several books published about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, including Will Bagleyâ€™s Blood of the Prophets, Sally Dentonâ€™s American Massacre: Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, and a book by Ronald W. Walker, Richard Turley and Glen Leonard to be published by Oxford University Press at present in the process of publication.
What explains the behavior of God-fearing Saints in perpetrating such a heinous deed? What factors could so cloud and blind the moral instincts of the leaders of the Southern Utah militia, many of whom also served as ecclesiastical leaders? What peculiar set of circumstances arose at that time and place that precipitated into the Mountain Meadows Massacre? He will treat the fear of invasion in southern Utah in late summer 1857. This created what sociologists call a “moral panic” — wildly proliferating rumors, fears for the stability of the social order, and overreaction against perceived enemies, and so forth.
Robert Briggs is one of the true experts on the circumstances surrounding the Mountain Meadows Massacre. He has examined all of the primary first hand accounts of the participants, all of the trial testimony of both trials in the 19th Century, and many other sources. Although a comprehensive discussion of this topic is impossible in one meeting, Robert Briggs will focus on one aspect contributing to the tragedy. Rob will examine the war hysteria gripping southern Utah, the fear of imminent invasion by federal troops, and other contributing factors.. Rob will sketch the evidence of invasion fears and overreaction.
Rob is also an active participant in the Mountain Meadows Association, which will hold a memorial commemoration at Mountain Meadows in September 2007. If his health permits, Pres. Hinckley is likely to attend. However, the viewpoint fostered by the Mountain Meadows Association is not shared by all, and at least two other associations will also hold commemorations at Mountain Meadows. In addition to his main presentation, Rob will present a brief overview of these three associations, their viewpoints and goals, and future prospects. The politics between and among the current groups is just as fascinating as the events of 150 years ago.
Donâ€™t miss this stimulating evening!
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Robert H. Briggs is an attorney in Fullerton, California, with an avid interest in Western history. Recently he has presented his research on the Mountain Meadows massacre at the 2002 Juanita Brooks lecture in St. George, Utah, at the annual conferences of the Utah Historical Society and the Center for Studies of New Religions (CESNUR) and other venues. Rob has examined all of the trial testimony from the two John D. Lee trials, researched other primary accounts, and applied tools developed in the courtroom and in historical inquiry to analyze the testimony to determine the likely most reliable statements about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Rob is one of the directors of The Miller Eccles Study Group.
For more information, including directions and contact information, go to the Miller-Eccles group homepage.